Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. I grew up in a Christian tradition that didn’t smile on the church calendar. We only celebrated Easter and Christmas. Even Good Friday was a bit iffy. Only my classmates at school or distant Catholic family gave me any connection to or understanding of the Lenten Season.
As I have practiced Lent the past few years, I have also enjoyed Mardi Gras, not as an indulgent day to drink too much and party with friends, but as a day of celebration. My husband and I go to lunch at our favorite Cajun restaurant to enjoy a bowl of their perfect seafood gumbo, wear the purple and green beads they supply, and celebrate life that is a good gift from God.
Life with God at the center involves both joyous times of celebration and periods of mourning and sacrifice. I want to do both well.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. . . . . A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance,” (Eccl. 3:1, 4).
Tomorrow I turn my attention to what is inside my heart. Hopefully God will renew my soul during the next 40 days, making me a more loving and giving person as I mourn over my sins. Such introspection helps me better appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made. Instead of dwelling on the sins of my neighbors, whether particular people I know or groups I don’t know, I see that Jesus had to die because of me. As the old song says, “Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lent gives me an annual glimpse of who I am and who Jesus is and allows me to celebrate Easter with great joy as I focus on Jesus’s resurrection and the hope of a new world where sin and death no longer rule.
How has Lent touched you?